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HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar

Áine 20 May 02 - 06:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 May 02 - 06:21 PM
Áine 20 May 02 - 06:55 PM
harpmaker 20 May 02 - 07:11 PM
GUEST 20 May 02 - 07:57 PM
GUEST 20 May 02 - 08:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 May 02 - 08:11 PM
harpmaker 20 May 02 - 08:18 PM
Áine 20 May 02 - 08:26 PM
GUEST,Chicken Charlie 20 May 02 - 09:00 PM
Melani 20 May 02 - 10:24 PM
Kaleea 20 May 02 - 11:49 PM
Kaleea 20 May 02 - 11:54 PM
Mark Cohen 21 May 02 - 12:38 AM
C-flat 21 May 02 - 02:22 PM
53 21 May 02 - 02:25 PM
Don Firth 21 May 02 - 02:32 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 May 02 - 02:33 PM
SharonA 21 May 02 - 02:55 PM
Don Firth 21 May 02 - 04:58 PM
Áine 21 May 02 - 05:06 PM
Dear Hubby 21 May 02 - 09:52 PM
Mark Cohen 22 May 02 - 04:58 AM
McGrath of Harlow 22 May 02 - 06:54 AM
Whistle Stop 22 May 02 - 07:54 AM
Don Firth 22 May 02 - 02:22 PM
Áine 22 May 02 - 03:54 PM
MMario 22 May 02 - 04:02 PM
Amos 22 May 02 - 04:08 PM
GUEST,guitarfixer 22 May 02 - 07:33 PM
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Subject: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: Áine
Date: 20 May 02 - 06:03 PM

Which is fantastic!! Now, what kind of guitar should I get her?

Caty went with her daddy to the guitar center yesterday and she picked up a Baby Taylor and tried to play. Daddy (Dear Hubby) melted straight away, of course, when she looked up at him and said, 'I want to play guitar like Mommy does.' So, naturally, the two of them spent the next hour picking on every guitar in the store. ;-)

I recently got a Taylor, and I love it. However, I don't have any experience with the 'baby' models. Does anyone know a good small guitar that would be good for Caty to learn on?

Thanks 'Catters, Áine (aka Very Proud Mommy)


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 May 02 - 06:21 PM

That's lovely. You might consider starting with a ukelele, they're nice and small, and only four strings, but still basically guitar tuning, so it would an easy move to a guitar later. (But a great little instrument in itself anyway.)

Mind she'll probably decide what she wants is a great big 12 string...


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: Áine
Date: 20 May 02 - 06:55 PM

Oh Kevin, you're so right - Caty does think big! ;-)

She has shown some interest in my mandolin, too. What do you think about starting her off on that before the guitar (that's if she'll compromise, don't ya know)?

-- Áine


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: harpmaker
Date: 20 May 02 - 07:11 PM

I think you would be doing Caty a big favour. The Baby Taylors I have played, have played very well. (It tends to put the student off when the instrument isn't so good)Hughs & Ketner(is that right?) also do a realy nice parlour body.


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: GUEST
Date: 20 May 02 - 07:57 PM

A Seagull Grand


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: GUEST
Date: 20 May 02 - 08:03 PM

A lollipop


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 May 02 - 08:11 PM

Starting with an open tuning might be an idea (with guitar or ukelele). And using a capo up a few frets so the frets were nearer together might be more reachable for small hands.

But if she's on for playing the mandolin, that's good and small to start with - and it's a jumping-off place for the fiddle, if she wants; and the fiddle is the queen of all instruments.


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: harpmaker
Date: 20 May 02 - 08:18 PM

Excelent McGrath, then she would deserve that lollypop!!John.


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: Áine
Date: 20 May 02 - 08:26 PM

Odd that you suggest the fiddle, Kevin. I made a trade with my No. 1 Son, Braden, just a few weeks ago. My Takemine guitar for his fiddle. It's a very special fiddle, too. My father-in-law made it. It's beautiful, and it has a great bluegrass sound to it.

I was seriously thinking about taking a crack at it myself. Caty seems very intent on the guitar (as in Baby Taylor!). She's already raided her daddy's supply of plectrums and picked out a lovely green one for her own!

-- Áine


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 20 May 02 - 09:00 PM

What I did, though I was older than 7, was to start on a "baritone uke," but I cheated and tuned it to the top four (top in pitch) strings of a guitar-- DGBE. That way once I was sure I wanted to move on, my callouses were forming, etc., I already knew the top 2/3 of the chords. The only drawback to the straight uke or mando ideas would be if and when they switched, they would have to learn chords over, but then, there are multi-instrument performers in this world so maybe that's not all bad.

CC


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: Melani
Date: 20 May 02 - 10:24 PM

That's how I started too, Charlie--but I thought that was how you were supposed to tune a baritone uke.


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: Kaleea
Date: 20 May 02 - 11:49 PM

I have taught music lessons for over 30 years, to include guitar, & classroom music. In fact, I have a 7 year guitar student who just started a couple of months ago & is doing quite well! I made the mistake of buying a baby taylor once thinking that the old arthritis is making it harder to carry around a big guitar, & I might be able to play it easier. I bought it from a "friend" during a music festival--in the same room where music was being played quite loudly, & he said it needed to be tuned, & have new strings put on it. When I got the thing home, I realized that no amount of tuning nor changing the strings would make that thing play in tune! Almost every "baby taylor" which I have played or heard played is horribly out of tune. If you want your child to play a guitar, then get an instrument which will help, and not hinder. Having an out of tune instrument will not teach any student to develop their ability to hear tones correctly--and the "babys" are made out of tune and cannot be correctly tuned (unless you just happen to find the only one I've ever heard of which is actually pitched correctly). Your 7 yr old most likely has very small fingers on very small hands, & needs a very small guitar such as a well made 1/2 size guitar. I have on many occasions met a new student's parent(s) at a music store to offer my opinion about guitars. There are many makers who make decent quality 1/2 sized guitars with nylon strings--which are easier on the small child's fingers. It is a much better choice, because it can be properly tuned, and can be played more easily by a small person. If the child has her mind made up, you may not be able to satisfy her with a uke, or mandolin, although they are terrific instruments for little ones. When a child says "I want to play the . . . " that is the time to let them try that instrument, and get the best one you can afford to in order to give them the best possible opportunity to learn to play well. If you had mentioned any other brand, I probably would not be responding so vehemently, but after seeing many students quit after making a frustrating attempting to play a poor quality instrument, I hope you can understand why I write this to you. The regular Taylor guitars seem to be good quality instruments, and I just cannot imagine why they have allowed the babys to come off the assembly line for so many years with the inherent defects which, by the way, caused them to create a bigger version of the "baby" which does not have such horrible intonation, but is still quite a bit larger than the average 7 year old would require.


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: Kaleea
Date: 20 May 02 - 11:54 PM

I have taught music lessons for over 30 years, to include guitar, & classroom music. In fact, I have a 7 year guitar student who just started a couple of months ago & is doing quite well! If you are referring to the larger version of the "baby Taylor, then it may work for you, but if you are talking about the smallest "baby" then I have to let you know: I made the mistake of buying a baby taylor once thinking that the old arthritis is making it harder to carry around a big guitar, & I might be able to play it easier. I bought it from a "friend" during a music festival--in the same room where music was being played quite loudly, & he said it needed to be tuned, & have new strings put on it. When I got the thing home, I realized that no amount of tuning nor changing the strings would make that thing play in tune! I could push down my finger high & low in the SAME FRET and there would be different notes! It was an assault on my ears. Almost every "baby taylor" which I have played or heard played is horribly out of tune. If you want your child to play a guitar, then get an instrument which will help, and not hinder. Having an out of tune instrument will not teach any student to develop their ability to hear tones correctly--and the "babys" are made out of tune and cannot be correctly tuned (unless you just happen to find the only one I've ever heard of which is actually pitched correctly). Your 7 yr old most likely has very small fingers on very small hands, & needs a very small guitar such as a well made 1/2 size guitar from a reputable music store. Be sure to get a battery powered tuner which they should be happy to show you how to use. I have on many occasions met a new student's parent(s) at a music store to offer my opinion about guitars. There are many makers who make decent quality 1/2 sized guitars with nylon strings--which are easier on the small child's fingers. It is a much better choice, because it can be properly tuned, and can be played more easily by a small person. If the child has her mind made up, you may not be able to satisfy her with a uke, or mandolin, although they are terrific instruments for little ones. When a child says "I want to play the . . . " that is the time to let them try that instrument, and get the best one you can afford to, in order to give them the best possible opportunity to learn to play well. If you had mentioned any other brand, I probably would not be responding so vehemently, but after seeing many students quit after making a frustrating attempting to play a poor quality instrument, I hope you can understand why I write this to you. The regular Taylor guitars seem to be good quality instruments, and I just cannot imagine why they have allowed the babys to come off the assembly line for so many years with the inherent defects which, by the way, caused them to create a bigger version of the "baby" which does not have such horrible intonation, but is still quite a bit larger than the average 7 year old would require. Good luck!


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 21 May 02 - 12:38 AM

Chicken Charlie, if somebody told you that you were "cheating" by tuning a baritone uke that way, he/she was uninformed. Melani is correct: DGBE is the standard tuning for a baritone ukulele.

I'm not an expert on guitars or teaching guitar, but I do know a bit about child development (and I have a 7-year-old daughter who is very musical). I would agree with Kaleea that if your daughter says she wants to play the guitar and you hand her an ukulele or a mandolin she may be a little disappointed or confused. At 7 she is old enough to know what she wants, and I think it is a good idea (and beneficial to your relationship and her self-esteem) to honor that if possible. The half-size guitar sounds like the way to go. Definitely nylon strings, and definitely a good quality instrument. It's understandable, but unfortunate, that most people buy cheap instruments for their kids to learn on. If purchasing a good instrument is not feasible, you might check into renting an instrument from a reputable teacher--not from a music store, where rentals may be fairly low quality (though I'm sure there are exceptions, and you have to know your local resources). Good luck--and enjoy! Unfortunately my daughter lives far away from me, so I don't have the joy of playing music with her--yet.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: C-flat
Date: 21 May 02 - 02:22 PM

I totally agree with the half-sized nylon string approach. If you need reminding just how clumsy the guitar feels first time you held one try turning yours over and playing it with opposite hands. Your little girl needs to be as comfortable as she can be with the instrument so she can concentrate on making music rather than just holding on. I can't wait for my 5 year-old to show an interest.


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: 53
Date: 21 May 02 - 02:25 PM

No doubt about it the Baby Taylor has to be the best guitar to start on and continue on as they grow bigger. I have a Big Baby and so does my wife and we both love ours. I also have 2 students that have Big Babys also. Invest in one and you won't be sorry. Bob


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 May 02 - 02:32 PM

If she wants a guitar, definitely get her a guitar.

I can't agree with the idea of starting her off on open tunings. I've taught guitar a lot, including kids. The best way for her to get a good start is to learn using standard tuning. If she wants to experiment with special tunings, she can do that later on when she knows how to play and she knows what she wants to do.

I've seen a batch of Taylor guitars and they seem pretty darned good to me, but I've never seen a Baby Taylor. Reviews I've read range from glowing praise to "it's a piece of junk!" so it may be that they vary in quality. But if Caty zeroed in on that particular Baby Taylor, you can check it out yourself and see if it's a good one. But then, you've undoubtedly thought of that already. My only qualm is that after a few days, sore fingertips from steel strings could be kind of off-putting.

Alternatives:—

I recently acquired a Jasmine JS241, a small classic guitar (nylon strings) with the idea of using it as a travel guitar. It's about the size of a parlor guitar: 23 inch scale, 1 3/4 inch fingerboard, 13 inches wide across the lower bout, 36 inches overall length. I wasn't expecting much, but I was surprised at how well made it was. Solidly constructed, the fretting is accurate, and the sound is not bad at all. And oddly enough for a classic, it has an adjustable truss rod. For $95.00 (plus shipping) from Elderly Instruments, I'd say it's pretty darned good. Jasmine JS24 here. If the JS241 sounds like it might be too big for a seven-year-old, the Jasmine JS141 is smaller, but I don't know it's dimensions. Elderly Instruments has them listed on page 24 of their most recent catalog. Incidentally, the gig bag that comes with it is okay, but it's not padded.

Strunal and Amada also make small guitars with kids in mind, but I haven't seen them. The Elderly Instruments catalog also lists them on the same page as the Jasmines. An interesting web site to cruise is http://www.musickidsonline.com (link). Some of the ones they list under "Guitars, Autoharps, Etc." look pretty cheesy, but the ones under "Student Guitars" look a lot better. The Strunal is shown here, and there is some good information about guitar sizes here.

I hope this helps. When a young 'un says "I want to play guitar like Mommy does" I gotta support that. Tickles me pink. Keep us posted and let us know what you decide and how Caty's coming along.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 May 02 - 02:33 PM

And you can tell her she's got a public out here all ready and waiting to hear her when she feels like playing "in public". Whatever she decides to concentrate on.

Maybe Chicken Charlie meant he strung the uke with a low D string rather than a high one - it wouldn't change the chord shapes, but it'd sound and play different from with the high D that is more conventional in this part of the world anyway.

(And the uke can be in a fair number of tunings, though normally with the same relative intervals. George Formby used to stick to the same basic chords, and had a bunch of ukes in the wings, tuned so they'd be in whatever keys he wanted to play in.)


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: SharonA
Date: 21 May 02 - 02:55 PM

Wow, Áine, what a thrill to hear that your Caty wants to follow in your musical footsteps!

I understand people's reluctance to start her off with steel strings because of the pre-callus pain (not to mention the danger to a young playmate's eyes when the strings break!), but I dunno.... when I was a kid, I was really "put off" by nylon strings. My fingers would slip off them, and I knew that the noise they made when I strummed wasn't the same as the sound I heard those folk-guitarists of the '60s making on TV! And Áine's kid wants to "play like Mommy" so I'll betcha dollars-to-doughnuts that she wants her guitar to sound like Mommy's! Isn't there some alternative to painful-to-young-fingers steel strings and blah-sounding nylon strings? Something in between?


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 May 02 - 04:58 PM

Good point, Sharon. Since I've used nylon strings almost all my life, I'm certainly no authority on steel strings, but I know that there are a lot more options now than when I first started. Light or extra-light gauge steel strings might be the route to go.

Caty should have a lot of input on whatever is decided.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: Áine
Date: 21 May 02 - 05:06 PM

Thanks everyone for your thoughts on Caty's Great Adventure!! ;-)

I think we'll leave it up to her which type of string she wants to play. But, she does a fair job of making chords on the mandolin already.

So far, I've heard both good and bad opinions of the Baby Taylors. Has anyone played any of the other half size models?

All the best, Áine

(PS -- Caty's already picked out her guitar strap out of one of Dear Hubby's guitar gear catalogues! Would you believe that they make one with dinosaurs on it!?!)


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: Dear Hubby
Date: 21 May 02 - 09:52 PM

O.K. Proud Papa weighing in here.

( Way I heard it was "I wanna play like Daddy" ) :D

Anyway, I think she's set on the Taylor and steel strings. She tried Mom's classical and she likes the sound of steel better. That's my girl !!!

And since she want's to play like Dad ... er Mom and since Dad ... er Mom ... OK both, play Taylors, well we can't break up a set can we?

Seriously, even people who are generally disposed to diss Taylors usually end the dissin' with "... but I have to admit the Baby Taylors are a great value."

O.K. now here's the cool part. She sat in Mom's office for almost an hour today just strumming away on the mandolin. And we had our first lesson tonight - which comes at an opportune time because she's already working on her first original song.

And she's learned all about the parts of the guitar, and the string names and is learning to pick and, and, and ...

OK I'll put the baby pictures (excuse me, big girl pictures) back in the wallet and shut up now. :D :D

Gushing Uncontrollably, Dear Hubby


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 22 May 02 - 04:58 AM

You go, guy!

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 May 02 - 06:54 AM

"I'll put the baby pictures (excuse me, big girl pictures) back in the wallet "

That's not fair without showing them round!


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 22 May 02 - 07:54 AM

In my experience, the Baby Taylors are pretty decent instruments for what they are, a good value, and I haven't experienced the tuning problems mentioned earlier. I would go with a Baby Taylor, strung with light-gauge steel strings, and be prepared to switch to lighter strings (extra lights or silk-and-steel) if there's a need. If your daughter is already "strumming away" on a mandolin, maybe she can deal with sore fingertips -- a mandolin will certainly produce them. Good luck.


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: Don Firth
Date: 22 May 02 - 02:22 PM

". . . well we can't break up a set can we?"

Outstanding! I like that! Put me down for a copy of Caty's first CD.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: Áine
Date: 22 May 02 - 03:54 PM

'Put me down for a copy of Caty's first CD' -- You betcha, Don! ;-)

Caty's a true Mudcatter -- the hour she spent strumming on the mandolin last night, she was strumming along with Justa Picker's playing. I loaded up all the files I have of JP's to Winamp, and let her rip!

I missed a fantastic Kodak Moment, though. I tried to take her picture as she sat there playing, face full of concentration, one leg tucked under her, and her other leg hanging down and resting her foot on our big black dog laying at her feet. Guess who's daddy is going to make a stop at the store tonight for more film? ;-)

-- Áine (who showed Dear Hubby the postcard received yesterday announcing a Memorial Day Sale at the guitar center this weekend . . .)


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: MMario
Date: 22 May 02 - 04:02 PM

I think you should all celebrate with a trip to Scarborough Faire! (Where you could possibly run into my great neice Gaia)

Don't foget to tape as well as take pictures!


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: Amos
Date: 22 May 02 - 04:08 PM

Give that baby a Mudcat hug from me -- I am proud to know her!! Wotta spunky pullet! ":>)

A


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Subject: RE: HELP: My 7-year old wants to play guitar
From: GUEST,guitarfixer
Date: 22 May 02 - 07:33 PM

We recently repaired a Baby Taylor. It was not a very good instrument. After repairing the damage, had to move the bridge saddle to the correct position, a guitar-making basic that the factory had overlooked. We see poor saddle placement on Seagulls, also. A year or 2 ago Yamaha offered the JR-1, a nice trouble-free instrument at under $200. Hope it's still available. Yamaha is a great choice for durability, a very important feature for younger players. The nylon string Amada guitars in 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 7/8 sizes are usually great after a proper setup.


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